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Android's 'Profitless Prosperity' Criticized

Roger McNamee, an investor who's been analyzing the output of Silicon Valley for 30 years, has criticized Android's "profitless prosperity", and that Google's mobile platform is the "equivalent of having a motor scooter at the Indianapolis 500."

"I watch what they have done with Android, and I'm flabbergasted because their market share in units is so high, but look at the profit share," McNamee told Bloomberg TV. "Apple's profit share is like 75 or 80 percent because Android has been managed essentially to make it a profitless prosperity. Right now, if Google is not careful, Android will be Samsung or Samsung will be Android."

He added that consumers purchase Android devices as they're cheaper, not due to brand loyalty. That said, for the first time since the smartphone's inception, the iPhone's owner loyalty declined in recent months.

McNamee also criticized Samsung, who leads the Android handset market and outsells the iPhone by 6-to-1 during recent months.

"Samsung could be what Apple is, but for whatever reason they don't do the value-added to the platform to make the product as useful as Apple," he said. "I am no Apple fanboy, but the notion that Samsung is equivalent to Apple is silly -- Apple's app ecosystem and way everything works together makes it a radically better product...and I think that is an objectively true statement."

The investor stated that Apple's strategy is "close to perfect," and expressed his admiration in regards to recent moves made by Apple CEO Tim Cook. He continued on to stress that Apple can "innovate and transform and rebuild whole markets." Some may disagree with that notion, though.

Prior to the launch of the iPhone 5, McNamee actually criticized Apple's innovation on September 19. "What's really sad is how many companies have given up trying to innovate," he said, referring to the company's latest slate of iPods, iPhones and iPads.

"Apple is increasingly dependent just on software for the retention...because the hardware is not that cool, not blow-away cool the way that the iPhone 4 was. I look at Apple as a shareholder, it's an amazing thing -- there is nothing competitive with them at all today, but they are already, so quick after Steve died, doing the things you expect a dumb monopolist to do."

He also commented on what he believes to be Apple's weak point: "The threat to Apple is that they forget that their power and success comes from selling hardware. If Android gets too much unit volume, it's a mistake." His advice to Apple, which he stressed created a next-generation web with the iOS platform and app ecosystem, is to have "everybody do everything on their hardware."

Earlier in the year, Google said it was generating $8 billion in revenue in 2012 with its mobile ads and sales of Google Play mobile content, as well as spending on Play apps. Apple, meanwhile, has the iPhone to thank for the majority of its revenue. Its smartphone lineup made $74.3 billion in revenue from June 2011 to June, 2012. For perspective, all of Microsoft's divisions generated $73 billion during the same period.

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